Oklahoma City — oh no, oh my, oh wow

 October 1, 2012 — Monday

Oh no, no.   We  started the  day at the moving Oklahoma City Memorial.  It’s sad that this memorial was created to honor 168 victims in the 4/19/1995 bombing, but the memorial does them beautiful justice.  Picture a long reflecting pool; across the pool sit 168 glass and metal chairs on grass, one for each victim, and the chairs are placed in the same footprint as the destroyed building.  It’s a bit after 9am and  several city workers are using blowers and rakes to remove autumn leaves and pine needles.  One by one, they make the area around each chair pristine, perfect, a simple act of honor that speaks volumes about the memorial, the city and its people.  On a nearby hill stands the Survivor Tree, an American elm dating to the 1920’s which miraculously survived even after surrounded by bombed, burning vehicles.  At the tree, a plaque reads: “The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.”  The facing wall of a damaged but still intact office building has this message painted in blue:

Team 5     4/19/95

We search for the truth.

We seek justice.

The courts require it

The victims cry for it.

And God demands it!

Oh my!  The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory was just the thing after the Memorial.  Part of the 17-acre Myriad Botanical Gardens in the heart of downtown, the exotic conservatory is seven stories of lush palms, orchids, cacti, bromeliads, anthuriums and exotic plants from all over the world under luminous white plexiglass .  Waterfalls and pocket fountains, every nook and cranny bloomed with beauty.  A skywalk lets you look over it, while a winding walkway with various levels lets you see each and every nook up close.  Outside, there is a boulder Stonehenge meditation garden, herb garden, grasses garden, lake full of ducks, children’s playground with two elementary classes sitting like Indians and eating packed lunches, a picnic area and walking/biking/running trails.  A jogger sped by us, checking his watch, probably a businessman from one of the nearby office towers taking a healthy lunch run.  O.C.’s downtown is really nice.

We passed the state capitol building with its shining dome.  We found the unique Red Earth Museum & Gallery in a plaza, marked with three life-sized buffalo, created by artists in the 1990’s Buffalo Project that appeared all over the city.  I have been reading about Red Earth’s exhibitions for several years and really wanted to see its collection.  The place is small but holds the best of the best of Native American artists, with rotating exhibits and outstanding examples of America’s late and contemporary Native artists.   The gallery manager told us not to miss a quick look at the lobby of the recently restored Skirvin Hotel Hilton, another downtown jewel.  His quick lunch suggestion was also on the money, the O.C. Deli-Pastaria with its delicious homemade pastas amid two packed rooms of business lunchers.

Oh wow!  The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is impressive from the moment you drive up, moreso as you walk into a three-story rotunda with light spilling over a white sculpture, “The End of the Trail”, a cowboy and horse by Earle Fraser.  It’s a massive museum, so we concentrated on its sterling Native and Cowboy art rooms, especially its unmatched holdings of Remington and Russell bronzes and paintings.  Our favorite was the old-style movie theatre tracing the Western movie from black & white silents, to black & white with sound, to color, to TechniColor, to TV.  The old greats were all there: Tom Mix, Roy & Dale Rogers, Gene Autry, Lone Ranger with Tonto, John Wayne “the duke”, Palladin, Rifleman, Bonanza, on and on in screen glory.    An adjacent gallery featured posters, costumes and memorabilia of each Western star, the largest on the legendary director John Ford.  For a movie-holic like me, it was heaven; even non-movie Steve enjoyed every bit.

Adios O.C. and all its wonderful offerings.  Hello interstate highway and some fast driving to get to Hydro’s lonely but still-standing Lucille’s on 66, a gas station and tourist court run by Lucille Hamons and her husband since 1941.  Lucille passed on in 2000 and is considered Mother of the Mother Road.  Close by is Weatherford with a modern restaurant honoring her, Lucille’s Roadhouse.  We had a great diner supper here surrounded by locals and truckers enjoying the homestyle food and spent the night in Clinton’s not-so-hot Ramada Inn, vowing never to use hotels.com again.

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